Season One, Episode One — “Pilot, Part 1”

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. I have to say, it’s been sticking in my craw something awful that Marvel Studios tossed its space-farin’ super-saga out of the gates before DC got the crust of Man of Steel out of its eyes. Guardians of the Galaxy was a sea change in how the casual viewer perceived comic book adaptations, and if you take a look at how well-received that new Suicide Squad trailer has become, well. Safe to assume people are ready to enjoy their superheroes on a far more ludicrous scale, so wouldn’t you say it was high time DC got to make a story that bent our minds and made us giggle too?

Legends of Tomorrow arrives just in time to capitalize on such a sentiment. It’s ambitious, hilarious, sweet, and it’s got moxie too. Legends has as much sass as any given episode of The Flash, and now that I’ve watched this pilot, I know it’s got the bonafides to eclipse it’s older sister on sheer scale too. “Pilot” is definitely rough in patches — it makes dubious narrative choices just to keep the action moving along, more on that in a bit — but there’s just enough wish fulfillment found here (and enough nods to where it came from) to forgive it. With a premise like this, there’s no limit to how high it can soar. All it has to do is remember to stick the landing.

WHAT WORKED: Rip Hunter’s time traveling whiz-wagon, The Waverider (which, nice one), pays enough homage to Lucasfilm, Firefly, and Doctor Who while somehow maintaining a personality of its own. Certainly helps that it’s controlled by a rather familiar A.I. (Gideon, Eobard Thawne’s technological aide during the first season of The Flash, is back.) The Waverider is pretty nimble for such a boxy-lookin’ craft, and the time spent in its corridors — oh, and let’s not forget that awesome spinning holocron for a hood ornament — made me feel, paradoxically, like I was coming home. It has the makings to be a Top 10, all-time, favorite TV ship. (Maybe one day it’ll get to go into space?)

Legends spends a brief amount of time familiarizing us with its core group (though it goes by pretty darn fast, you forgive it because there are nine of them), establishing a surprisingly cohesive unity between them. It establishes that every member of this would-be Justice League shares a common denominator (as heroes, they’re expendable) while giving them an internal function that is both wholly familiar and surprisingly fresh: Sara Lance drinks and hits like Marion in Raiders of the Lost Ark; the brutish Heat Wave slams people around and unwittingly says funny things like he’s supposed to have green skin; and Rip Hunter hops in and out of his captain’s chair to fix a ship that’s constantly falling apart. When they begin to mingle, it’s surprising to see how much depth each actor brings to their established roles, almost as if they’ve just been given a new lease on life.

WHAT DIDN’T: I’m all about Professor Stein’s scientific curiosity. It’s definitely adorable and infectious — Victor Garber sometimes feels as though he was born to play this role — but drugging and kidnapping someone against their will isn’t exactly the how you want to endear this character to the uninitiated, Show. Watching Stein drug young Jax just when the two have secured a still-tenuous trust was enough to make me feel uneasy, but then to have the poor guy left alone to mope on the ship while all everyone else (literally everyone else) gets to run around without one shred of sympathy to his plight… well. You don’t have to dig too deep to find the societal subtext here. Clean it up, Legends.

And while we’re at it: look, I know this is just the pilot and the budget we’re playing with right now is probably nowhere near where it’s going to be moving forward, but holy damn did the Seventies look lousy. It’s going to take more than some “groovy” spouting extras, Earth, Wind & Fire, and a sepia Instagram filter to truly transport your audience. The first period setting of Legends of Tomorrow was about as Seventies as the last season of That 70’s Show.


Ah. The early second millennium A.D. The Golden Age of gasoline engines, online pornography, and those silly little smart phones.” – Gideon, who I never realized I missed as much as I did.

Up until two months ago I was a barista, not a damn winged demigoddess.” – Ciara.

Captain Cold: “Stein. What the hell are you doing here?” Prof. Stein: “I’m as ignorant as you. For once.”

My name is Rip Hunter. I’m from East London. Oh, and the future.” – Rip.

Ray: “You sure it’s a good idea to leave these two unsupervised in a time machine?” Heat Wave: “Hey, Haircut. Deafness wasn’t one of the side effects.

BEST MOMENT: Sure, that bit with Rip’s “window into the future” set my spine to tingling, and don’t forget about Mick, Sara, and Leonard’s bar rumble to Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” — that was a fond reminder of why I love those characters so much. But it was a quiet moment with Ray Palmer that melted my heart in a manner unfelt since… well, since the last time The Flash did that. The look on Brandon Routh’s face as he said, “I can’t live with someone putting a cap on my destiny…” Priceless. And it only gets better if you approach that as a meta commentary on the actor getting the DC heave-ho after Superman Returns. He’s a man of steel no more, but Routh is still a hero in my book.

EPISODE’S MVP(s): Leonard Snart and Mick Rory. (It’s so much easier to hand out ties when you’re dealing with a team show!) That’s right, Captain Cold and Heat Wave made a moderately-fun hour of TV so much sweeter. Legends did itself a service by poaching two of The Flash‘s baddest bads (especially when you think about how criminally underused Dominic Purcell actually is). Every second Mick and Leonard are on the screen, I squee. They’re so ding-dang great.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.

© 2016 The CW Network. All rights reserved.


– Okay, can we just get this out of the way? Yes, Rip Hunter, DC’s preeminent time traveler, is played by Arthur Darvill, the companion to the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who. And yes, the inside of The Waverider looks like the TARDIS. Can we move on now?

– And for those of you playing at home, Rip Hunter is the bouncing baby boy of none other than Booster Gold. So keep your eyes peeled for the inevitable cameo (unless that Booster Gold/Blue Beetle movie actually gets made).

– What was that name got dropped between Hitler and the rest? None other than DC’s own jackbooted fascist, Per Degaton, who first appeared in the DCU wayyy back in 1947. (All-Star Comics #35)

– Gideon! Waugh!

– Love that Cisco made the White Canary outfit.

– Professor Stein, Jax just said he was only 20 years old. Put the bourbon away.

– Rip named his ship “The Waverider”. Nice shout to the former Linear Man, who first appeared in Armageddon 2001 #1 (1991).

– Chronos, all-around temporal pain in the ass, first appeared in the DCU in The Atom #3 in 1962. Though it looks like Legends has given him some kinda upgrade, at least in terms of badassery.

7 out of 10